Monday, March 23, 2015

Two unabashedly shameless plugs

I’ve been known to insert (somewhat subtle) plugs of events at which I’ll be appearing. However, today I wanted to just flat-out promote two events I’ll be appearing at in the next two weeks because I’m really excited about them and I think they’re going to be a blast for anyone that attends. And yes, I’m just going to let the press releases do the talking for me.


Come out on Saturday, April 4th, to the Upper Hudson Valley NanoFest at The Hollow Bar + Kitchen (79 North Pearl Street in Albany). From 2pm to 5pm The Hollow will be playing host to five local “nano” breweries, and serving the best craft beer made right here in the Upper Hudson Valley!

Try roasty porters, velvety stouts, hoppy black IPAs, and a host of other brews! Meet the brewers and sample beer from Green Wolf Brewing Company (Middleburgh), Honey Hollow Brewing Company (Earlton), The Beer Diviner (Stephentown), Rare Form Brewing Company (Troy), and Argyle Brewing Company (Greenwich).

“I am passionate about craft beer,” says Dora Philip, owner of The Hollow Bar + Kitchen. “We are being recognized for our live music and food scene, and craft beer plays a significant role in that.  We cook with it, we host a variety of culinary/beer events and it is often the liquid of choice in the pints of our show-goers. The Upper Hudson Valley NanoFest is an opportunity for us to gather and showcase small, local breweries, and it’s incredibly exciting for us.”

Also on hand will be local beer authors Craig Gravina and Chad Polenz, signing copies of their respective books—Upper Hudson Valley Beer and The Handbook of Porters and Stouts. Books will be available for sale from the authors.

Tickets will available, before April 4th, at The Hollow for $20, and for $25 the day of the event. Must be 21 or older to attend. You can RSVP on Facebook, too.

NOTE: The previous content was written by Craig Gravina.

Session Beer Dinner Menu

Come out on Monday, April 6th at 6:30pm to Café Nola (617 Union Street in Schenectady) to the first beer dinner ever to be comprised exclusively of “session beers.”

This will be the third beer dinner to be hosted by local beer writer Chad Polenz at Café NOLA this year. Polenz is the co-author of The Handbook of Porters and Stouts, a 400-page hardcover compendium on all things dark beer (which he will be selling for $20 each; a discount of 1/3rd off the cover price). Polenz also blogs about beer news, events, and trends for the Times Union newspaper of Albany, NY on its “Beer Nut” blog. Additionally, he has posted over 1,300 beer reviews to his website since 2008.

“Normally, beer dinners tend to be made up of big, beefy brews. But in honor of the fourth annual Session Beer Day on Tuesday, April 7th, I wanted to go in the opposite direction and put together a menu of lighter beers. No one’s ever held a beer dinner with this type of theme in the Capital District. Also, what’s nice about doing a dinner of session beers is you won’t be overwhelmed by the alcohol when it’s over,” said Polenz who assembled the menu with Kevin Brown – Café NOLA’s co-owner and head chef.

Chef Brown insists that his traditional Cajun fare is not all about being spicy. “Louisiana cooking has the unfortunate reputation that it has to be hot and spicy. This is simply not true. The true art of Cajun cooking is the unique blend of herbs and spices that serve to enhance the flavor of vegetables, seafood, meat, poultry and wild game. In addition, the chef must know how to blend the ingredients together and how to complement fermented beverages. Though these session beers are light in alcohol, they’re not light in flavor and they’ll stand up to the food without problem.”

Chef Brown has created a menu of food with layers of flavor and added a dash of Spring produce. The pulled pork is smoked on premise with applewood. The food offerings will pair perfectly with Chad’s beer choices.

According to Lew Bryson, beer author and founder of The Session Beer Project, session beers are defined by five criteria:
  • 4.5% alcohol by volume (ABV) or less
  • Flavorful enough to be interesting
  • Balanced enough for multiple pints
  • Conducive to conversation
  • Reasonably priced

“There are indeed two beers on the menu that are just over 4.5% ABV [see attached menu]. However, we were limited to what was available, what was fresh, and what paired best with the food,” said Polenz. “That 0.1 or 0.2% difference may irk Lew and other hardliners, but I think it’s a small concession to make in order to have the best beers possible for this dinner. I’m sure the diners will be pleasantly surprised by the variety of styles represented, how widely they represent the flavor spectrum and how easy they are to drink.”

Special mention should be made to Upstate Brewing’s X.P.A. which will be making its Capital District debut at this beer dinner.

Tickets are available now at Café NOLA for $50 each (which includes tax, but not tip) or may be purchased online through Event Brite. Must be 21 or older to attend. Reservations should be made by April 3rd.

NOTE: The dinner is being held on Monday, April 6th as Café NOLA is normally closed on Mondays and this will allow Kevin and his staff to cater exclusively to beer dinner patrons.

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